N.C. County Pool’s Ban on Baggy Pants, Locs and Extensions Causes Outrage, Owner Passes Blame On His Wife
(Atlanta Black Star) A Wake County, North Carolina, pool owner is so furious over claims his rules are racist that he’s preparing to take legal action. John Freeman owns The Outdoor Recreation Center of Wendell with his wife, Teresa. He told ABC 11 it was his spouse who posted the since-deleted rules on the Facebook page.
Among the rules was one that disallowed hair and clothing styles that are typically worn by Black people.
“No baggy pants, no dread-locks/weaves/extensions or revealing clothes will be permitted or you will be asked to leave,” stated the rule for the pool, which patrons pay a one-time $100 registration for and then pay $6 each time they visit to swim in, according to the ORC of Wendell Facebook page.
Despite the pool rules photo being deleted, screenshots of the list have made the rounds online.
When the rules were initially shared to Facebook on the recreation center’s account over the weekend, accusations of racism poured in from the community. Even up until today, comments slamming the business have continued to pour in.
“Racism still exists!! Go to hell and take your pool with you!”
“I do not have locks or extensions but I cannot and will not support your business. I was very excited about this pool but then I saw the ‘rules’ and you keep saying you’re not racist…but what do you call a person that actually took time to write out those detailed rules?”
“How do yall plan to swim in them hooded robes?”
An apology post, which has also been deleted, said in part, “Due to ignorance of the meaning of the word dread-locks, ORC rules should have stated NO artificial hair. ORC apologizes for anyone we have offended.”
One local community activist, Diana Powell of Justice Served NC, continued to get tagged regarding the rules. She told the news station she went straight to Freeman and asked him about the regulation at issue.
“He told me that his wife is — they’re not racist. His wife just actually just made a mistake,” Powell, who is the organization’s executive director, recalled Freeman told her.
Freeman would not speak to the news station on camera but explained he did not want pool goers walking in front of children “with their britches down.”
He also doubled down on the explanation given in the comments section of the ORC of Wendell Facebook page. In addition to the comment stating that “ORC IS NOT racist nor [are] the Freeman’s that own it,” it explained the “No hair attachments policy” is in effect because the Certified Pool Owners class “told all businesses DO NOT allow any [hair] extensions your pool because if any pieces get in the strainers and into the pump it is an automatic shutdown of 3 days or more.”
However, a CPO instructor contradicted that rationale when speaking to the news station.
“In 50+ years operating commercial swimming clubs (owned/operated a large community pool management company in Northern Virginia) never have I heard of or experienced a pump or filter system damaged by hair,” the CPO instructor explained. “Strainers are installed to prevent hair and other material from getting into the pump, that is their purpose. There was a time (many decades ago) when swimmers with long hair were required to wear bathing caps because of the argument that hair lost in the pool would block up the filter system, so perhaps this thinking is still lingering. Experience proved it was not a concern.”
Regardless, Freeman has a major issue with the racism accusations — which have now included a screenshot of a meme his wife appears to have posted to Facebook that reads, “This does not offend me, this bulls— does.” It includes a photo of a Confederate flag in the “does not offend me” section and baggy, sagging jeans in the “this… does” portion.
Freeman said he’s planning to lawyer up over the claims he and his wife are racist.
“If they call me racist, they can put it in writing and we will deal with it at the courthouse,” he said of those publicly accusing the couple of being bigots.